Just recently my ex-husband stopped in to visit during his vacation. In the course of small talk, a few old memories usually crop up in the conversation. One that instantly came to mind was the day our second son was born.
It was early Sunday morning on a crisp day in the middle of May when I was awakened from my sleep by what I knew to be labor pains. Since it was my second pregnancy I was not alarmed. I already had one child so I felt like an old pro. I knew it was early labor and I had plenty of time before heading off to the hospital. I decided to let my husband, Jim, sleep a little longer. After all, there was no need to awaken him yet.
I slipped quietly out of bed and went to the bathroom to relieve the pressure from my heavily burdened bladder. After washing my hands and face, I brushed my teeth then went into the kitchen to make the morning coffee. I poured myself a steaming cup, retrieved the newspaper from the side porch, then sat down at the kitchen table to look over the headlines. After glancing at the morning news, I poured myself a second cup of coffee and slipped quietly back into the bedroom to get dressed. Jim was still sleeping soundly. I took my already packed overnight bag from the closet and carried it to the living room. I placed it beside the door so that we could just grab it when we were ready to leave. Then I returned to the kitchen to make breakfast for Jim.
My sixteen month old son was spending the weekend with my husband’s mother and stepfather. My mother-in-law, Eileen, had insisted on keeping him since she just knew I would go into labor during the weekend. She calculated this prediction due to the fact that I was six days past my due date. After placing the scrambled eggs and sausage links on the plate, I went into the bedroom to wake Jim up, who was still snoring peacefully.
“Morning honey,” I said as I kissed him on the forehead. “Get up. Breakfast is ready.”
“Morning babe,” Jim replied. He sat up, ran his hand through his dishwater blonde hair then stumbled to the kitchen table. He didn’t bother to get dressed and since it was only the two of us, I figured it was okay for him to eat in his underwear.
The contractions were getting stronger. My husband gobbled down his food then headed for the bathroom. (No. It wasn’t the effects of my cooking!) As I cleaned off the table, I felt the grasp of a contraction, then a sudden warmth of fluid. I leaned against the sink. Jim came out of the bathroom looking relieved but that only lasted momentarily. Glancing over at him, I said, “It’s time. My water broke.”
“Oh God!,” he said. “I have to find a ride. I have to get you to the hospital. (Our car was in the shop for repairs at the time.)
“Calm down,” I said. “We have time.”
“Time!,” my husband shouted. “What time is it? Oh God! I have to catch Lisa before she goes to church.” And with that said, he took off out the side door and down the steps. I followed him to the porch. “Honey,” I called. “Jim,” I yelled, but he was already gone. All I could do was laugh and hope that none of the neighbors called the police on the tall, slender man running down the street in his white Fruit of the Loom briefs!
Lisa was my husband’s cousin. She and her husband lived down at the end of our street. I’ve never been quite sure why Jim ran to her house instead of calling her. It must have just been his first reaction. Although the contractions were stronger now I couldn’t hold back from laughing when Jim returned. He was wearing a pair of pants that were entirely too short and he had to hold them tightly around his waist to keep them from falling down. He looked hysterical! It reminded me of the episode from the old Dick Van Dyke show when Laura went in labor! I insisted he change pants before we left for the hospital. Lisa had given Jim the keys to her car and told him to drive carefully. We had two stops to make before going to the hospital – to pick up our mothers. They both wanted to be there and I figured my husband could use their support.
We arrived at my mother’s house first. She jumped in the car so quickly I wasn’t really sure the vehicle had come to a complete stop. It wasn’t until we reached my mother-in-law’s home that we realized my mother was still in her nightgown! We all exited the car and went into the house in hopes that my mother-in-law could provide my mother with something more appropriate to wear. While I was in the kitchen talking with my husband’s stepfather, we heard a car going down the driveway. Looking out the window, we realized that Jim and his passengers had left for the hospital – without me! My mother had grabbed a bathrobe from a hook on the inside of the bathroom door to cover her nightgown. My mother-in-law left with one side of her head still rolled in foam curlers and the other side displaying loose, bouncy curls. And the three of them were off!
They actually didn’t realize they had forgotten me until they arrived at the hospital. Luckily for me, the hospital was only a few minutes away. Yes, they did return, pick me up and deliver me safely to the hospital. Shortly afterward, I delivered a healthy seven pound fourteen ounce son. Mother and child were fine. But I think my husband and our mothers were a little worse for wear!
Darlene Zagata is a freelance writer and columnist for the print publication Moon Shadows Magazine. She is also the author of “Aftertaste: A Collection of Poems” and “The Choosing.” Her work has been published extensively both online and in print. For more information visit her website at http://darlenezagata.tripod.com or contact Darlene at [email protected]